Monday, September 7, 2009

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

I read all three books earlier this year and I must say, the books are wonderful. The story, the characters, all amazing and very well-written.
His Dark Materials are books by the British author, Philip Pullman. I will tell you a little about each book.

This is the first book called The Golden Compass or Northern Lights in the UK. The book was first published in 1995.

The story starts off with Lyra Belacqua, a 12 year old girl who lives at Jordan College in Oxford. The story begins when Lyra enters the Retiring Room in the college, which is forbidden to enter. Lyra's daemon, Pantalaimon - or Pan - tries to stop her, but it is no use because she doesn't listen to him.

Lyra and Pan hid behind a chair when they hear the master of the college coming into the room. They see him putting poison in some wine, which Lyra learns the wine is for her uncle, Lord Asriel, who is visiting. Eventually the master of the college leaves and Lyra hides in the wardrobe. A bit later Lyra's uncle shows up to the room and is left alone in there. Seeing he was going to drink the wine; Lyra bursts out from hiding and stops him from drinking the wine. Instead of punishing her, he tells her to hide once again until the meeting is over.
Through a little crack in the wardrobe Lyra can see through and sees what her uncle is showing to everyone. Pictures of where he's been and Dust...Something called Dust. Shortly after the meeting Lord Asriel must leave again and Lyra is left at Jordan College. Lyra can't stop thinking of what she had heard - and seen - in the Retiring Room. What is Dust? She doesn't know, but wants to find out.

Something strange is going on. Children are disappearing because of something called the Gobblers. Lyra and her friend, Roger, have been hearing about children disappearing all over town and no one knows why. One night Roger goes missing and Lyra becomes worried. Did the Gobblers get her friend? She doesn't know and no one else seems as worried as her.
Her friend is missing, what is Dust? And all the other things she heard in the Retiring Room? Eventually all this will lead Lyra into a journey that she will never forget.

This is the second book called The Subtle Knife. It was published in 1997.

This book starts off with a boy named Will Parry, who is also 12 years old. Will takes care of his Mother and has ever since his Father disappeared when he was only a baby. Will loves his Mother very much and will do anything to make sure she is okay. She is a great mother, but just has problems sometimes.

Some men are after Will's Mother; and he thinks it has something to do with his Father. Will's Mother has some papers from his Father and Will figures that is what the men are after, but doesn't know why.

Will has left his Mother with someone he knows because he feels she will be safe there and he heads back to their apartment to pack a few things and get the papers his Father gave his Mother. While packing Will hears someone at the door and it opens. It's these men again, looking for something. One comes in and looks around while the other stands at the door. Will charges the man standing in the doorway and the man trips over Will's pet cat and falls down the steps. When the other man leaves Will gets his things and leaves too.

He has to leave; he knows the police will be looking for him for killing a man. While walking Will comes upon a portal to another world. A city called Cittàgazze. The city looks deserted and he finds a house where that is some food. It is this house he finds a 12 year old girl.

This is the third book called The Amber Spyglass. It was published in 2000.

This book continues where the second left off. Lyra was taken by her mother, Marisa Coulter, who has them both hiding in a cave from the Magisterium. Marisa forces Lyra to drink tea which keeps her asleep.While Lyra is asleep she dreams of a wasteland and she can see her friend, Roger, there. She talks to him and promises to help him.

In Cittàgazze, Will meets two Angels named Balthamos and Baruch. They tell him they are there to take him to Lord Asriel. But, Will refuses. He tells the angels he won't go until he can find and recuse Lyra.

Those are all 3 books and I tried not to give to much away of books for those who haven't read them. I'm also going to show everyone some other books. There are some other books are set in the His Dark Materials universe and the other two books are actually about the His Dark Materials books. I'll explain more when I come to them.
Other Books In The His Dark Materials Universe:

This book is set in the His Dark Materials universe, it's called Lyra's Oxford. It was published in 2003.

This book is set two years after The Amber Spyglass and Lyra is now 15 years old. Lyra is watching birds, out of the tower in Jordan college and she notices the birds attacking another bird. It turns out to be a daemon in the form of a bird.

Since there is no human near; Lyra figures this must be the daemon of a witch because a witch's daemon can be far away from them, where is a human's daemon can't. Lyra saves the daemon from the birds and finds out the daemon's name is Ragi. After saving him, Ragi asks Lyra to help him find a man named Sebastian Makepeace.

I read this book last night, and it is really small, but it's a nice little book. It also has a really cool fold out map.

This book is also set in the His Dark Materials universe. It's called Once Upon A Time In The North. It was published in 2008.

This book is actually a prequel, I guess you could say. It is about the one character named Lee Scoresby, who is an aeronaut. In this book he is 24 years old.

The story starts with Lee, and his daemon, Hester, making a rough landing in Novy Odense. After putting his balloon in storage, Lee and Hester decide to head into town. Where Lee is surprised to see bears; working and some just hanging around.

Lee then enters a bar and starts talking with a man about the bears. This is where Lee learns the bears are intelligent, can speak and even make their own armor.

Future Books:
The next book is to be The Book Of Dust. There is not much known about this book, but it is to be a really, really big book. What is known is that Lyra will be about 16 in the book and it will address the questions about the lack of portrayals of positive effects of religion in His Dark Materials. Last I heard it might be released in 2009.

Another book that Pullman wants to make is a book about Will. Nothing is known about it other then at some point he wants to make it and it is going to be a green book.

Further Reading:

This book is The Magical Worlds of Philip Pullman by David Colbert, who is also the author of The Magical Worlds of Harry Potter and The Magical Worlds of Lord Of The Rings.
This book is a guide to His Dark Materials. If you've ever wondered where Philip Pullman has got his ideas or who influenced him then this is a very good guide. It is only about 170 pages long so it is not a very big book, but has lots of great information for those who wish to know more about Pullman or the books.

This is The Elements of His Dark Materials: A Guide To Philip Pullman's Trilogy by Laurie Frost.
This book is another guide to the books. It's also very good, but much bigger; about 500 pages or more. This is a great guide for those who want to know more about the books in more depth.

The Movie(s):

This is The Golden Compass movie. It is based on the first book and I actually saw the movie before I read the books. I love the movie still, but the book is better. I know that is usually always the case with books to movies, but the thing is with The Golden Compass movie is that there was a lot of stuff left out from the book. It was left out because the company wanted it to be a family film and the ending of the movie isn't the ending of the book. They left out the last three chapters in the movie because they wanted it to be a happy ending. There was some other changes as well.

But, I would recommend anyone to watch the the movie because it is still very good but if your going to watch the movie you should read the book too so that way you will get the full story.
You already know that there is two other books in the series and they were to be made into movies, but the chances of that happening is not very good. The Golden Compass did very well in other countries; making over $300 million and in America it only made about $70 million. There were lots of boycotts in America of this movie and the books too. People were sending out e-mails and everything to tell of the evils of this movie and the books.
But, in total it made about $372 million worldwide. But, because of it not doing so well in America we probably won't see the other two made into movies.
Facts About His Dark Materials:

I think that there is a lot of misunderstandings about these books. People just go by what they have heard and I just want to let everyone know these books are not about killing God. There is a God character in the book, but it isn't the God we know. And I'm only telling you all this because I know all the things that have been said about these books.
Anyway, there is really misunderstandings with these books. Like Daemon, in the books this is what a daemon is; an animal-formed, shape-shifting manifestation of ones soul. As for the word, it sounds like demon, but doesn't mean the same thing. Check out this post here: Daemon - It Doesn't Mean What You Think and it will tell you what the word Daemon means and where Pullman found the word.

There is also some who won't read the books because of the fact they are called His Dark Materials. It's simply because the word 'dark' is in the title, but actually the title isn't something evil and I will tell you where he got it from.
His Dark Materials is a direct quote from the poem Paradise Lost by John Milton. Paradise Lost is a story about the fall of man, temptation of Adam and Eve and the Fallen Angel Satan. Paradise Lost hasn't only been influence to Pullman, but to many others as well. Another major influence on Philip Pullman was William Blake.

I could go on and on because there is many very interesting things about His Dark Materials that are misunderstood. One of the things is definitely the religion part, but I won't talk about that just yet. Maybe in another post.

But, there is many more things to this book and if your interested in learning more I would recommended one of the guide books shown above. If you just want a quick read about it then David Colbert's book is very good and I enjoyed reading it very much. But, if you want to know more then go for Laurie Frost's book or you could just read both.

For anyone who hasn't read the books and likes fantasy books then I would recommend this book series to you. It is wonderful and it really makes you think at times. His Dark Materials is one of my favorite book series and I just hope more people will give it a chance and read it.


  1. I've only read the first (though I have all three, though not everything else you listed.) I ended up getting into it, but it took me awhile to like it. I really wanted to just set it down quite a few times.

  2. I'm sure this book series isn't for everyone, but I enjoyed it. There have been some books that I just had a hard time reading because I couldn't get into them so I understand.